Baseball fans flocked to Mad Dawg's and Mel's restaurant Friday afternoon eager to rub elbows with Arizona Diamondback team representatives in town for autograph sessions.
Former third baseman Matt Williams, catcher Kelly Stinnett, bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock, broadcaster Greg Shulte and mascot D. Baxter were on hand for the event.
As the long line for autographs moved slowly through the restaurant, Baxter playfully mingled with the admiring crowd lending more than a bit of humor to the event. His hijinks and theatrics, which also included signing autographs, thrilled young and old alike.
The Diamondback representatives were visiting Payson as part of the Hometown Tour, sponsored by Arizona Public Service and, in Payson, the town parks and recreation department. The tour began Jan. 21 in Safford and wound through Flagstaff, Tucson and Benson before wrapping up Jan. 29 in Globe, Yuma, Sedona and Prescott.
Williams was especially popular among fans. He was an infielder who joined the Diamondbacks in 1997 after 10 season with the San Francisco Giants. A consistent .270 hitter and a solid fielder, Williams drove in 142 runs for Arizona in 1999. After being hobbled by a series of injuries, he retired at the conclusion of the 2002 baseball season.
Stinnett also drew a crowd of admirers. The strong-armed catcher has been signed by the Diamondbacks to a minor league contract and invited to spring training. Stinnett tore a ligament in his right elbow June 20 and was sidelined for the season.
After leaving Payson, Williams, Schulte and Baxter traveled to Show Low High School on their luxury tour bus to host a home run whiffle ball contest.
The others returned to Phoenix.